Those of you that checked in for my third cycle review will remember that as a largely negative affair, a lamentation and a remembrance of a time when Lions could bite. I was very disappointed you see, that my faction of choice from the first two cycles had only received two, maybe three playable cards, and only one of those fitting into a strong meta archetype. Yes, Lannister have had some more good tournament showings over the last half-year, but aside from a 1x Genna Frey (and a short-lived combo deck utilising There Are No Men Like Me) there were no new cards to be seen at the top tables.
But anyway, that’s old news. We’ve had another cycle and two faction boxes since then. With Lanni no longer dominating the meta game, surely FFG have been generous with a slew of new playable cards to make up for the travesty of the previous cycle. Surely this is the time for Lannister to become relevant again.
So let’s celebrate all of these incredible cards with a breakdown of some of the new and existing archetypes that have been dominating the tier lists recently.
The Crossing deck has been performing well for many months now. The game plan is straightforward: play big guys, don’t kneel, keep up tempo with jumping characters and stack up power to win before your lack of draw betrays you.
Myrcella Baratheon fits in wonderfully here, not only assisting Cersei on the intrigue challenge but also being Lannister’s first non-kneeling power icon. Emptying the opponent’s hand enough to activate this is usually trivial with Queen Cersei and Heads on Spikes. At three cost she is an ideal flea bottom target and she is also great in Rains as a “free” three strength into the leading intrigue challenge.
Well, that just about wraps up our set review folks. Thanks for reading!
What? There were other cards? Let’s see here… What is all this garbage!? Ok, fine, I guess I’ll do these too.
Clansmen is clearly another top archetype for Lannister, as can be seen from it’s dominance at The Storming of Starpike II back in March (https://thejoustingpavilion.com/tournaments/4941) where no more than four clansmen decks all finished in the bottom half of the standings.
This cycle saw the release of Black Ears, a 4-for-4 military monocon with no other relevant game text other than getting him in for 2 gold sometimes maybe, at a time that you don’t really have control over. Cool.
This is also a good spot to talk about Ashemark. I am convinced that this card sees play in a competitive deck one day, and Clansmen seems like the perfect home for it. The potential to return most of the board to hand before ambushing your own back in and raising claim with Tyrion etc could really create some blowout situations. So what’s the problem? It’s just too expensive. If you want full value from this card you either have to spend the majority of a marshalling phase on it and give up tons of tempo, or use some other bestow synergies like Unbridled Generosity, Favors From the Crown or Cersei’s Informer. But aggressive cards these are not; it would be very difficult indeed to slot any of them into a Clansmen deck.
Still, the Informer bears talking about as this could certainly be another sleeper card from the cycle. Lannister struggles for efficient draw, so adding some filter should not be overlooked. Combining this with cards like Fever Dreams or Seized by the Guard can add some real value, but the limit once per round will hold this back from seeing as much play as it’s sailing Greyjoy counterpart.
Another bounce card to slot into your Clansmen tempo deck comes in the form of Lion’s Tooth. I am actually a big fan of this card as a challenge trick in Lannister and I think it can fit into more general goodstuff decks too. The surprise bounce can push through a challenge your opponent thought they had, and thin their board at the same time ready to be trimmed down further by your military claim or Trial by Combat.
One of the more interesting new decks to come out of the last cycle was a viable mill deck out of Lannister Greensight, Dave Bamford’s take can be seen here;
An unfortunate casualty of the most recent restricted list, I would not be surprised to see this deck return with the upcoming release of the Glass Candle in cycle 5.
Raff the Sweetling is an easy include here, adding to a long line of ‘does something when you pillage X cardtype’ that Lannister and Greyjoy have been enjoying. Obviously hitting a character with the pillage becomes a lot easier when you have the one true Tywin to filter the discard, and the bonus of bouncing a character can help your tempo by removing your opponent’s character, or speed up your mill win by bouncing your own Lannisport Guard.
Knights and Kingsguard
I mean, this is another deck type, I guess?
Kingslayer is truly unplayable. Just don’t.
Sparring in Secret maybe enables a combo deck in the future, but doesn’t do enough to earn a slot in a generic knights deck.
Ser Balon Swann only triggers on non-Lannister knights, and 6 cost for 4 strength is not an attractive stat line. Probably only playable in a banner deck with Rose – which begs the question of why you aren’t just playing a Tyrell knights deck which is infinitely better.
Renown on the power challenge should not be undervalued in Lannister, but the rest of the card does not do enough to get him out of my binder.
The Hound can hold Kingslayer, which is obviously a big upside. He is better considered in Melee where is a lot more likely to find a target. In joust he cannot even be considered until his ultra efficient namesake leaves the cardpool.
If we can’t have good cards at least we can have fun ones.
Ser Pounce, aka The Pounce that was Promised, is considered by some to be the saviour or House Lannister. Cat. Knight. Beautiful. There are ways that this card can be used effectively – Theon or Arya equipped with a cat should not be underestimated. But that’s not going to make for a world beating deck, even if it can win over our hearts.
Maester at the Rock is the cornerstone of Millsters, the number one Conclave mill deck. Play Without His Beard, top deck it with a Maester, Shadowblack Lane to search it out, play it again, top deck it with another Maester, then draw it from insight on Pycelle ready for your second intrigue challenge from Casterly Rock, obviously. The deck may not be as good as Greensight mill, but you do what you can in these austere times #freedragonstail
A Plot Against the Queen feels like it should be the subject of a new In Search of Jank article from George Ankers. The dream scenario is to get power on cheap characters and bounce them to throw a Mace back to hand. The only question is how to get the power on cheap enough characters to make sure this is a big tempo swing. Here are some thoughts: Joffrey Baratheon. Jorah Mormont, Tourney For the King, Daring Rescue, Lady Sansa’s Rose, The Boy King. Go forth and jank.
Not an archetype as such, I just can’t think of a better way to describe these cards. Also please don’t take this as meaning that some of the other cards in this article do not fall into this heading. Many of them surely do.
Qyburn was so close to being good, but when we’re already paying the cost of kneeling this 4-cost character and only in reaction to a kill, why do we then have to discard one of our nice new cards? Overall too steep a cost and too many conditions for a filtered draw, and on a terrible body to boot.
Extortion maybe gets good when Shadows is everywhere and people hold more gold into challenges. But does this really push out Treachery for event slots? Nightmares? Hear me Roar? Probably not then.
Sweet Cersei requires you to pay the cost of 1 gold, a card from hand, and most importantly a card slot in your deck, for the possible benefit of a couple of gold in a few rounds’ time – now that’s value.
It is not all doom and gloom for us Lions of Casterly Rock. There are indications of a strong shadows theme to come, with us already receiving the bomb removal of Ser Robert Strong, and signs of further support in Bowels of Casterly Rock, Catspaw and Clever Feint. Maybe next time I can be a bit more positive. Just maybe.